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Unilever, one of the world's biggest advertisers 'calls off boycott of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Unilever, one of the world's biggest advertisers 'calls off boycott of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
Consumer goods giant Unilever plc. (UN, ULVR.L, UL) announced it plans to end the advertising pause next month, stating that it would continue to scrutinize the platforms in the post-election period.

The Anglo-Dutch company, maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, was one of the first to instate a ban on social media advertising this summer amid calls to boycott Facebook as part of the "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign started by U.S. civil rights groups after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who died while in police custody on May 25.

“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” Unilever said at the time.

In an interview with Adweek, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who led the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign, said Facebook displayed “monopolistic indifference and a failure to respond to the demands of customers.” Facebook has since been sued by 48 states and the Federal Trade Commission, though that suit focuses on allegedly illegal acquisition of competitors such as Instagram and WhatsApp. 

More than 1,100 advertisers joined the campaign.

Some boycott participants, including VF Corp.'s North Face, Heineken NV and Pernod Ricard SA, returned to Facebook after July, while others extended their boycotts, calling Facebook's moves up to the point insufficient.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have committed to concrete steps to further manage harmful content moving forward, including common definitions for 11 harmful content areas : Unilever

Unilever said that it felt Facebook has made enough progress for it to feel comfortable resuming advertising with the company.

"We will closely assess the platforms' deliverables against their timelines and commitments, as well as polarization in the social media news feed environment post-election as the year progresses," Unilever said. 

We have a unique role and responsibility to address the complexities of the social media ecosystem : Di Como

Luis Di Como, executive vice president of global media for Unilever, in a recent statement, said, 

"Our long-term goal is to work with our partners and the industry to drive systemic change. We are encouraged by the commitments the platforms are making to build healthier environments for consumers, brands and society in alignment with the principles of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media. This is why we plan to end our social media investment pause in the U.S. in January. We will continue to reassess our position as necessary.”

"This is why we plan to end our social media investment pause in the U.S. in January. We will continue to reassess our position as necessary." Di Como added. 

Facebook welcomed the move from Unilever:

Reacting to the Unilever announcement, Carolyn Everson, vice president of global business group at Facebook, said in an emailed statement,"We look forward to our continued partnership in 2021 and remain committed to our work with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media to fight harmful content online."


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